Education News Roundup: Feb. 3, 2015

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Rep. Draxler’s proposed tax increase for school funding dies in committee. (SLT)

and (DN)

and (PDH)

and (LHJ)

and (CVD)

and (SGS)

and (UPC)

and (SLCW)

and (KUTV)

and (KSTU)


Standard catches up on high school graduation rates. (OSE)

and (OSE)


Governor’s OMB director, Kristen Cox, discusses the budget. (

and (UP)


The Macbeth that your kids will see in school this year gets a good review from Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review Journal)


Nationally, the rich-poor education gap grows wider. (AP)

or a copy of the study (Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education)


But if you can close it, the economy improves, another study finds. (NYT)

and (Time)

or a copy of the study (Washington Center for Equitable Growth)


Another study finds that high quality early education is helpful in closing the gap. (WaPo)

or a copy of the study (American Educational Research Association)













Lawmakers reject tax increase to fund schools Education » The bill failed along party lines.


Slight increase seen in area high school graduation rates


Districts face pressure to raise graduation rates


Crisis Center, high school basketball teams combat teen dating violence


Three-way land deal in the works with Dixie State, St. George and school district


5 Things School Counselors Want Parents to Know:


Applications for ‘Judge for a Day’ program available for Utah students


Gov. Herbert Declares School Counseling Week in Utah


Football molds lives of Utah’s Polynesian youth, Sundance documentary shows


Local arts high school students experience Sundance film festival for first time


Some of Jeb Bush’s strongest allies on education are Democrats







Keys to the governor’s budget


Clean air is about time (and money)


Legislative work being done on air quality


Flagged Bill: HB 150 – Prohibition on Electronic Data Collection – Rep. Marc Roberts


Flagged Bill: SB 104 – Education Elections and Reporting Amendments – Sen. Alvin Jackson


Keeping Precious Charter-School Seats Filled Too many of the schools don’t ‘backfill’ with new students to replace those who move away.


Backfilling charter seats: A backhanded way to kill school autonomy


Doing justice to ‘Macbeth’







Closing Education Gap Will Lift Economy, a Study Finds


Study: College Completion Gap Between Rich, Poor Widens


Study: High-quality early education could reduce costs


One third of Louisiana voucher students are enrolled at sanctioned schools


Measles Outbreak Proves Delicate Issue to G.O.P. Field


Poll: Divide on vaccines about age, not politics


R U There?

A new counselling service harnesses the power of the text message.


Elected or appointed? Pick your poison for Chicago Board of Ed


Broad Foundation Puts Hold on Its Prize for Urban Education


Virtual Preschool: Yes, That’s Now a Real Option


Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades


Ontario Teachers Buys PODS From Arcapita for $1 Billion








Lawmakers reject tax increase to fund schools Education » The bill failed along party lines.


A proposed tax increase to boost teacher pay and fund school technology fizzled and flamed out at its first legislative hearing Monday.

With a nearly unanimous vote, members of the House Education Committee rejected North Logan Republican Rep. Jack Draxler’s idea of hiking the state’s personal income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.5 percent.

Drazler’s bill, HB54, would have generated more than $420 million in annual funding for public schools.

But the Utah Taxpayers Association, led by Draper GOP Sen. Howard Stephenson, had mobilized its members to fight the legislation.

Draxler said lawmakers have been “spinning our wheels” for too long on the subject of public education. Utah’s per-pupil spending is perennially at the bottom of the list when compared to other states’.

“What I’m trying to emphasize is we need a reality check and we don’t need the reality check five or 10 years down the road,” Draxler said. “We need it now.”

But his call for a tax increase, already an unpopular concept in Utah’s tax-averse Legislature, was further stymied by prescriptions on how the additional funding would be spent. (SLT) (DN) (PDH) (LHJ) (CVD) (SGS) (UPC) (SLCW) (KUTV) (KSTU)






Slight increase seen in area high school graduation rates


FARMINGTON – Most Top of Utah schools saw increased graduation rates in 2014, according to the state Office of Education’s recent release of data for all state schools.

Davis School District had one of the highest overall graduation rates in the state compared to other large districts of its size, with 91 percent, up 3 percent from 2013.

Other districts that increased their 2014 graduation rates were Box Elder School District, from 85 percent in 2013 up to 89 percent in 2014; Cache, from 91 to 92 percent; Logan, from 79 percent to 83 percent, and Ogden, from 68 percent to 71 percent.

Morgan School District held steady between 2013 and 2014 with a 93 percent graduation rate. Weber School District saw a decrease, having reported an 81 percent graduation rate in 2013, down to 80 percent in 2014. (OSE)






Districts face pressure to raise graduation rates


OGDEN — If a student hasn’t been showing up at school in Ogden, he or she can expect a visit.

“We have a graduation hot list,” said Rich Nye, the Ogden School District’s director of assessment and curriculum. “We identify students, by name, who may be at risk of not meeting graduation requirements.”

That includes doing some detective work to track down students who are not attending classes, and appear to have dropped out. (OSE)






Crisis Center, high school basketball teams combat teen dating violence


CEDAR CITY — Two high school basketball teams are joining forces with the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center Wednesday to help raise awareness of dating violence as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

At 7 p.m., the basketball teams for both Cedar High School and Canyon View High School will face off against their opponents while showing their support for the cause by wearing purple socks, Darrah Jones, youth coordinator for the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center, said. This will be the third time the two schools have teamed up with the Crisis Center as part of the awareness month. (SGN) (KCSG)






Three-way land deal in the works with Dixie State, St. George and school district


A heavily utilized baseball stadium in St. George could soon become the site of a new downtown elementary school. It’s all part of a plan being discussed by the city of St. George, Dixie State University and Washington County School District. They say it’s going to benefit each entity in the future.

It’s a three-way deal and if the project moves forward, and the city agrees to sell the six-acre parcel of land across from the Sun Bowl, it will hopefully help bring more people to the downtown area. (KUTV)






5 Things School Counselors Want Parents to Know:


  1. Teach your kids how to study: How many of you ask you kids if they have homework? There is always something they can read, study and prepare for.
  2. Support your kids in becoming resilient: Allow them to grow and succeed on their own merit. Tell them they can do hard things. Every student is at a different level of challenge. (KTVX)





Applications for ‘Judge for a Day’ program available for Utah students


The Utah State Courts are planning the 10th Annual “Judge for a Day” program in recognition of Law Day, which is celebrated annually on May 1.

Students selected to participate in the program will be paired with a judge in one of the state’s eight judicial districts for one day in either April or May. The students will be given a behind-the-scenes look at court operations, which include observing court proceedings and a judge at work.

Students are asked to submit an application form by March 6. Application forms and additional information are available at (LHJ)






Gov. Herbert Declares School Counseling Week in Utah


Gov. Gary R. Herbert declared Feb. 2-6, 2015, School Counseling Week in Utah. (UP) (





Football molds lives of Utah’s Polynesian youth, Sundance documentary shows


SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it’s high school, college or the pros, Polynesian athletes are excelling at every level of the game — distinguishing themselves as football superstars.

The documentary “In Football We Trust,” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to sold-out crowds. (KSTU)






Local arts high school students experience Sundance film festival for first time


Thirteen student filmmakers from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts attended the closing weekend of the Sundance Film Festival, the first time the school sent a group to the famous film event.

The exhibit and competition in Park City, Utah, wrapped up Sunday with the showing of the winners announced a day earlier. (Pasadena, CA, KPCC)






Some of Jeb Bush’s strongest allies on education are Democrats


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has an enviable track record on education, and during his time as governor he pushed through a host reforms that remain widely embraced.

The catch is that some of Bush’s strongest allies on education are Democrats, including President Barack Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (DN)










Keys to the governor’s budget

Commentary by Kristen Cox, executive director, governor’s Office of Management and Budget


Gov. Herbert’s budget proposes right-sizing the amount of funding currently earmarked from sales and use tax in order to invest in education while also addressing the need to fund transportation for the long-term. The significant growth in earmarks merits review and a full understanding of the impact of this trend.

Specifically, the governor’s budget recommends that $94 million of the $517 million earmarked for transportation be transferred to the General Fund in order to invest in education. This recommendation allows for immediate needs in education to be addressed while ensuring that currently programmed transportation projects remain funded. At the same time, the budget proposes to right-size the amount of sales tax dedicated to transportation and to re-examine the proper role of the fuel tax—an approach that would result in a long-term solution to transportation funding. Finally, the governor’s approach supports more accountability for earmarked funds—ensuring that earmarked funds receive the same level of review as all other funds. ( (UP)





Clean air is about time (and money)

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Rep. STEVE HANDY


A couple of years ago I received a call that went something like this: “Representative Handy, I’m one of your constituents. What are you and the legislature doing about our dirty air?”

I distinctly remember the conversation because the caller was somewhat exorcised and I wanted to hear him out. And besides, although I didn’t know him personally, I recognized his name and voice as a prominent advertising lawyer.

My initial answer was something like, “Well, we’re doing all we can, but we can’t legislate geography.” He didn’t like this answer one bit and let me have it saying it was a lame excuse and why didn’t Utah enact some of California’s strict, clean-air regulations?

It was one of those experiences when “I remembered where I was.” It made a strong impression on me and I vowed never again to blame our problems exclusively on our geography.

I decided to get myself educated and soon determined that although we already had some modest incentives on the books, there was more we could do.






Legislative work being done on air quality

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner op-ed by Rep. BRAD WILSON


It isn’t lost on any members of the legislature that we do our legislative work in the midst of inversion season. The Capitol offers a perfect vantage point to observe an inversion pressing down on the Salt Lake valley and trapping us in particulates of our own making. Though there has been significant improvement in our air quality since I was a youngster growing up in Davis County, that doesn’t mean there still isn’t more to do.






Flagged Bill: HB 150 – Prohibition on Electronic Data Collection – Rep. Marc Roberts Utah Political Capitol commentary by columnist Curtis Haring


In a post-9/11 world, where concerns were ever present about the threats of terrorism seemed all too real, Utah policy makers were quick to welcome projects that would help protect the homeland. One such project, the Utah Data Center, more commonly known as the NSA Data Center, was publicly welcomed by all but the most staunch privacy advocates. When we consider the additional fact that the state and nation were in the heart of a recession, and that a $1.5 billion project would inject new money into the state when it was desperately needed,  it is easy to see why policymakers didn’t put up much of a fight when the NSA decided to set up shop at Camp Williams at the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley.

Now that the hysteria is starting to die down, politicians are singing a different tune, realizing that the data center was not the job creator it was billed in. Throw in a general distrust  of the federal government, and it becomes obvious why anti-NSA Data Center legislation is gaining steam on Capitol Hill.

Last year, Senator Jerry Stevenson (Republican – Layton) proposed and passed legislation contentious legislation that formalized tax subsides that were previously agreed upon during negotiations, but were never actually turned into law. With public opinion turning, lawmakers were hesitant to sign on to the deal, but ultimately did.

Now that another year has passed, and with public opinion continuing to turn against the NSA Data Center, Representative Marc Roberts (Republican – Santaquin) is looking to take the legs out of the data center with HB 150 – Prohibition on Electronic Data Collection Assistance.

The bill, if successful, would make it illegal for any state or local official to support or assist with any bulk federal data collection. No government employee, city, county, or the state itself could assist the federal government in its attempts to collect bulk amounts of data. Furthermore, if a government does assist the data center, the bill would authorize the state to pull any and all state funds that are currently supporting the institution.






Flagged Bill: SB 104 – Education Elections and Reporting Amendments – Sen. Alvin Jackson Utah Political Capitol commentary by columnist Curtis Haring


The idea of partisan school board elections is nothing new at the Utah State Legislature. Last year, for example, we noted that Representative Brian Greene (Republican – Pleasant Grove) proposed HB 228 – Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments. This year, the issue has been resurrected by freshman senator, Alvin Jackson (Republican – Highland) with SB 104 – Education Elections and Reporting Amendments.

As one might suspect, Jackson’s bill removes the requirement wherein ballots for school board remain nonpartisan.

As we noted last year, proponents for partisan school board elections claim that opening the door to partisan elections for school boards will give voters a better understanding of where a candidate will fall on educational issues, while opponents argue that it is a way to politicize an office that should be focused on education, not the constant and daily back and forth of party politics.

In many ways, our analysis remains similar to last years, if only because both the intent and the outcome appear the same.

Jackson’s proposal poses many potential problems for education in the state going forward.






Keeping Precious Charter-School Seats Filled Too many of the schools don’t ‘backfill’ with new students to replace those who move away.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by PRINCESS LYLES, executive director of Democracy Builders, And  DAN CLARK, lead organizer of Democracy Builders


The public charter-school application season in New York and around the country has begun. For the next few months, millions of parents and their children will wait nervously for news about how their applications fared in the random lotteries for charter-school admission. Through lotteries, typically held in April, charters will enroll more than three million students this year, up from less than one million in 2005.

This is great news for families and students. But the charter sector has long avoided a difficult truth: Most charter enrollment policies distort market forces and explicitly limit choices for families at certain grade levels. In fact, most charters squander an opportunity to give the highest-need students access to the highest-quality education by failing to backfill empty seats. Public records indicate that tens of thousands of places remain empty every year. Extrapolated nationally, limited backfill policy denies at least 100,000 additional K-12 students access to open seats that could be available in 2015.

Backfill is the practice of keeping every seat across every grade occupied regardless of student mobility as long as parent demand exceeds supply. As schools lose students—and, over time, all schools do—backfilling means making vacated seats available to new students from a waiting list. Most traditional public schools, unlike charter schools, are required to backfill. When a seat opens up, whether in a sixth-grade class in September or a 10th-grade class in December, it is filled.






Backfilling charter seats: A backhanded way to kill school autonomy Fordham Institute commentary by President Michael J. Petrilli


In today’s Wall Street Journal, Princess Lyles and Dan Clark, the executive director and lead organizer of the school-choice group Democracy Builders, argue that states and/or authorizers should require charter schools to “back-fill” their “empty seats” when they lose students to attrition. This is a terrible idea.

Their argument in favor of requiring charters to backfill is twofold. First, they say it’s unfair to compare schools that backfill to those that don’t, because those that don’t (like Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies) almost certainly end up with a more motivated, higher-performing population over time as weaker, less engaged students depart for less challenging environments. It’s especially unfair, they say, if the comparisons are made on proficiency rates—the percentage of students passing state tests—instead of individual student growth. (I agree that such comparisons are unfair. More on that below.)

Second, they argue that, by not backfilling seats, schools like Success Academy are limiting opportunity. As a result of this policy, parents only have a shot at getting their kids into schools at designated entry points (like kindergarten or sixth grade). If families lose the charter school lottery for those specific grades, they are out of luck forever.

It’s a reasonable point, and I respect schools like Democracy Prep that welcome in students at any grade when space opens up. But whether to do this should remain the prerogative of the school, not the state or its regulators.

Why? Because there are strong instructional arguments for not backfilling.






Doing justice to ‘Macbeth’

Las Vegas Review Journal review by critic Paul Atreides


It’s rare we get to see a production of Shakespeare without traveling 90 minutes or so to Cedar City.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival travels with a selection for its Shakespeare-in-the-Schools program and we’re lucky enough to have the College of Southern Nevada host it every year, bringing students from around the valley to experience the world’s foremost and most prolific playwright.

Don’t fret, they’ll do public performances this weekend.

Each script for the tour is typically pared down from its original length. This year, we get the rarely produced tragedy, “Macbeth,” or as those in the theater like to superstitiously call it, The Scottish Play. Director Quinn Mattfield takes on what is considered one of the Bard’s darkest and most powerful plays and does it justice.

The key to good Shakespeare is to have a novice attend and understand the play. This is especially important when exposing middle and high school students who may not have had any prior opportunities. It’s that first exposure which can make one love or hate, maybe even fear, Shakespeare.

Here, Mattfield and his actors are all on top of their game.











Closing Education Gap Will Lift Economy, a Study Finds New York Times


Study after study has shown a yawning educational achievement gap between the poorest and wealthiest children in America. But what does this gap costs in terms of lost economic growth and tax revenue?

That’s what researchers at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth set out to discover in a new study that concluded the United States could ultimately enrich everybody by improving educational performance for the typical student.

When it comes to math and science scores, the United States lags most of the other 33 advanced industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ranking 24th, far behind Korea, Poland and Slovenia.

Moving up just a few notches to 19th — so that the average American score matched the O.E.C.D. average — would add 1.7 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next 35 years, according to estimates by the Washington Center, a nonpartisan, liberal­leaning research group focused on narrowing inequality. That could lead to roughly $900 billion in higher government revenue, more than making up for the cost of such an effort.

If Americans were able to match the scores reached in Canada, which ranks seventh on the O.E.C.D. scale, the United States’ gross domestic product would rise by an additional 6.7 percent, a cumulative increase of $10 trillion (after taking inflation into account) by the year 2050, the report estimated. (Time)


A copy of the study (Washington Center for Equitable Growth)






Study: College Completion Gap Between Rich, Poor Widens Associated Press


LOS ANGELES — The gap in bachelor-degree attainment between the nation’s richest and poorest students by age 24 has doubled during the last four decades, according to a report released Tuesday.

The percentage of students from the lowest-income families – those making $34,160 a year or less – earning a bachelor’s degree has inched up just 3 points since 1970, rising from 6 to 9 percent by 2013.

Meanwhile, college completion for students from the wealthiest families has risen dramatically, climbing from 44 to 77 percent.


A copy of the study (Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education)





Study: High-quality early education could reduce costs Washington Post


High-quality early childhood programs can reduce the number of children diagnosed with certain learning disabilities by third grade, according to a study published Tuesday in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal.

The study, conducted by Clara G. Muschkin, Helen F. Ladd and Kenneth A. Dodge of Duke University, could have significant implications for reducing the financial burden special education services place on municipal budgets.

The researchers explored how two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina affected the likelihood that children would be placed in special education by the end of third grade. It focused on a preschool program for four-year-olds from at-risk families and a program that provides child, family, and health services for children from birth through age five. The study tracked 871,000 children who were born between 1988 and 2000 and were enrolled in third grade between 1995 and 2010.

Children who participated in the More at Four preschool program, now called NC Pre-K, were 32 percent less likely to be placed in special education by third grade, compared to peers who did not participate in the preschool program, the study found.

Those enrolled in the Smart Start program for children from birth through age five were 10 percent less likely to be receiving special education services by third grade, the researchers found.


A copy of the study (American Educational Research Association)





One third of Louisiana voucher students are enrolled at sanctioned schools New Orleans Times Picayune


One third of Louisiana’s voucher students are enrolled at private schools doing such a poor job of educating them that the schools have been barred from taking new voucher students, according to Education Department data. The schools include four in Jefferson Parish, eight in New Orleans and six in Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Scholarship Program lets children from low-income families attend participating private schools at taxpayer expense if they have been at C-, D- or F-graded public schools or are entering kindergarten. Now in its third year, the program has been threatened by local and federal lawsuits, but total enrollment continues growing, from 6,775 in 2013-14 to 7,362 students this year.

Some supporters say vouchers give children access to better schools; others say low-income families should have the same choices as wealthy ones. Louisiana is spending about $42 million on the program this year, at an average cost of $5,545 per voucher, according to the Education Department.

To ensure the money is well spent, voucher students take the same state tests as their public school peers. If they don’t meet academic targets, their schools may not enroll new voucher students, although the children already there may stay.

This year, 131 private schools are participating. But 23 of them failed to meet the bar and may not take new students in the fall. These schools have 2,550 voucher students, according to the new data.





Measles Outbreak Proves Delicate Issue to G.O.P. Field New York Times


WASHINGTON — The politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters.

As the latest measles outbreak raises alarm, and parents who have decided not to vaccinate their children face growing pressure to do so, the national debate is forcing the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential hopefuls to confront questions about whether it is in the public’s interest to allow parents to decide for themselves.

Gov. Chris Christie’s trade mission to London was suddenly overshadowed on Monday after he was quoted as saying that parents “need to have some measure of choice” about vaccinating their children against measles. The New Jersey governor, who is trying to establish his credibility among conservatives as he weighs a run for the Republican nomination in 2016, later tried to temper his response. His office released a statement clarifying that “with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a physician, was less equivocal, telling the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday that parents should absolutely have a say in whether to vaccinate their children for measles.






Poll: Divide on vaccines about age, not politics USA Today


Is support for childhood vaccinations a partisan issue?

The comments made by Chris Christie and Rand Paul that parents should have a choice on immunizations would seem to suggest so, especially as Hillary Rodham Clinton shot down the likely GOP presidential candidates with a tweet strongly favoring vaccinations for children.

But polling data on vaccines indicate the divide is along generational lines rather than ones based on political ideology.

Overall, 68% adults say childhood vaccinations should be required, while 3 in 10 say that decision should be up to parents, according to a Pew Research Center report released last week.

When the findings are broken down by age, 41% of 18-to-29 year old adults say parents should decide whether their child is immunized for diseases such as measles. That compares to 20% of adults over 65 who share this view.





R U There?

A new counselling service harnesses the power of the text message.

New Yorker


In 2011, a young woman named Stephanie Shih was working in New York City at, a nonprofit that helps young people start volunteer campaigns. Shih was responsible for sending out text messages to teen-agers across the country, alerting them to various altruistic opportunities and encouraging them to become involved in their local communities: running food drives, organizing support groups, getting their cafeterias to recycle more. Silly, prankish responses were not uncommon, but neither were messages of enthusiasm and thanks. Then, in August, after six months on the job, Shih received a message that left her close to tears for the rest of the day. “He won’t stop raping me,” it said. “He told me not to tell anyone.” A few hours later, another message came: “R u there?” Shih wrote back, asking who was doing this. The next day, a response came in: “It’s my dad.” had no protocol for anything like this, so Shih texted back with the contact information for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the country’s largest anti-sexual-assault organization. But the texter indicated that she was too scared to make a phone call. “This is the right thing to do,” Shih insisted. There was no reply. “Not knowing if she was safe or had gotten help or would ever get help consumed my thoughts,” Shih told me last fall. She printed out the text messages and handed them to her boss, Nancy Lublin,’s C.E.O.

“I’ll never forget the day,” Lublin said. “It was like I’d been punched in the stomach.”

That week, Lublin and Shih started work on what two years later became Crisis Text Line, the first and only national, 24/7 crisis-intervention hotline to conduct its conversations (the majority of which are with teen-agers) exclusively by text message.






Elected or appointed? Pick your poison for Chicago Board of Ed Crain’s Chicago Business


Chicago’s school system already is in a deep financial hole, with structural budget deficits, soaring pension contributions and a credit rating hovering near junk bond territory. If other big cities are any guide, an elected school board could spell even more trouble.

Driven by opposition to the decision to close 49 schools two years ago, the Chicago Teachers Union and other activists have made a push for an elected school board the most clear-cut issue dividing Mayor Rahm Emanuel from his major opponents, framing it as a basic question of democracy. The drive also feeds progressive support for challengers to the mayor’s City Council allies as well as a nonbinding referendum on this month’s ballot in nearly three-fourths of the city’s wards.

“We’ve had 25 years of this mayoral control and it’s not working,” CTU President Karen Lewis says, noting that a union poll last year said 65 percent of Chicagoans favor an elected school board.

Yet a Crain’s analysis of the 20 biggest U.S. school systems with elected and appointed boards found that half of those with elected boards carry even more debt than Chicago does, compared with revenue, while all but one of the largest systems with appointed boards have borrowed relatively less.

“Appointed boards are often more prudent fiscal agents, which in an era of very scarce resources is enormously important,” says Timothy Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.





Broad Foundation Puts Hold on Its Prize for Urban Education Education Week


Disappointing academic results are prompting the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to “pause” its $1 million annual award that recognizes improvements in student achievement in the nation’s urban school districts.

When it was founded 13 years ago, the Broad Prize for Urban Education was meant to galvanize urban school districts that serve low-income students to significantly improve student performance and close the achievement gap. But today, the foundation announced that the prize has been “paused”  because of “sluggish” academic results from the country’s largest urban school systems and to allow it time to reflect on how it can improve the prize-awarding process given the ways that urban education has evolved in the last 13 years.

The foundation cited changes in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, Tennessee’s Achievement School District, and other “portfolio” districts that offer a mix of traditional public schools and charter models as some of the changes that the foundation will review and to update the award. (Some of those efforts are funded by the foundation.)

“The decision to pause the prize was further precipitated by sluggish academic results from the largest urban school districts in the country,” according to the press release making the announcement. “Previously, 75 of the largest public school districts in the country were automatically eligible for The Broad Prize each year. A review board of education experts reviewed performance data and selected the finalists. Since 2002, there have always been four or five finalists.”






Virtual Preschool: Yes, That’s Now a Real Option Education Week


Now an option for parents of young children: a “virtual” preschool with digital learning materials, activity guides, learning analytics, and “homeroom teachers,” all accessible online through your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Really. This is not satire (as was the case when The Onion lampooned the notion in an eerily prescient story a few months ago.)

“We call it a virtual school, because we deliver the curriculum and the content and everything else through online tools,” said Dan Yang, the female founder of VINCI Education, a four-year old company with headquarters in Ottawa, Canada; North Andover, Mass.; and Hong Kong. “To be honest, we haven’t had anybody who has said, ‘That’s a bad idea.'”

Early-childhood education experts consulted by Education Week offered a different take.

“My first reaction was concern,” said Kyle Snow, the research director for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a Washington-based nonprofit.

“There are some red flags for me,” said Seeta Pai, the vice president of research at Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit.

“Honestly, my first reaction is this preys on anxious parents with money to burn,” said Lisa Guernsey, the director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.





Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades NPR Morning Edition


As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. The unemployment rate is nearly twice as high for Americans with a high school diploma as for those with a four-year college degree or more.

But economists say that doesn’t mean everybody needs a four-year degree. In fact, millions of good-paying jobs are opening up in the trades. And some pay better than what the average college graduate makes.






Ontario Teachers Buys PODS From Arcapita for $1 Billion Bloomberg


The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bought PODS Inc, a portable moving and storage company, from Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank BSC for more than $1 billion.

The Canadian fund’s long-term equities group, with $140.8 billion in assets, led the acquisition of Clearwater, Florida-based PODS, according to an Arcapita statement Tuesday.

The private equity fund acquired PODS in December 2007 and the exit will bring to $2 billion the proceeds returned to investors over the past 18 months, according to Arcapita. The firm sold its 50 percent stake in the $1.4 billion Lusail Golf Development in Qatar to Barwa Real Estate last month.











USOE Calendar



UEN News



February 3:

Senate Government Operations Committee meeting

2:11 p.m., 415 State Capitol


Senate Education Committee meeting

4 p.m., 210 Senate Building


House Government Operations Committee meeting

4 p.m., 30 House Building


House Revenue & Taxation Committee meeting

4 p.m., 445 State Capitol



February 4:

Public Education Appropriations Committee meeting

8 a.m., 445 State Capitol


House Education Committee meeting

2 p.m., 30 House Building


Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee meeting

4:08 p.m., 415 State Capitol



February 5:

State Board of Education meeting

6 p.m. 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

6:10 p.m., 445 State Capitol



February 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

8 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



February 12:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City